I love interesting furniture pieces. These were cubbies in a hardware store in 1950. I love the original stenciled numbers. I bought it at an antique store ten years ago and it was the primary showpiece, holding my tincture bottles, in my shops. It now holds a place in my kitchen. I realize that it is getting really dingy looking. Sixty-nine years of army green can only hold up for so long. (Spoiler alert! Next week I am revamping my kitchen. Can you guess what color the cubbies are becoming?) I just sold my Hoosier yesterday to make room for my new kitchen idea. It held glasses and barware. You can take any old piece and reimagine its purpose.
I love this idea with the pantry items. It looks fun and unique while being practical. Things do tend to get lost in the back of the pantry or spoil. I end up buying way too many of one thing over time, thinking I am out. This is a great way to keep track of what pantry pulses I have on hand. It makes grocery planning easy. And it serves as dinner inspiration. Choose a grain or legume, see what veggies I have on hand, think up a theme, and go! Dinner is on.
I am an advocate of using what we have. I have a beat up couch and a beat up futon and some beat up chairs and a giant puppy who likes to sleep on them. I have hand me down furniture that can easily move from room to room to create a different look.
The newly white bookshelf matches its mate now. I set it at an angle in the corner to create a smooth appearance to my mini office space complete with vintage secretary. This L-shaped living and dining room in my hundred year old house lends itself to separate areas for reading, or conversation, or entertaining.
Tomorrow I will show you what fabulous finds you can get at antique stores, garage sales, craigslist, or thrift stores that still work in this day and age and make life so peaceful and satisfying in their gentle whirrings and lack of electric usage, but there are some things I get new. Unfortunately from Walmart, but there it is. It would be ridiculous to use vintage quilts on our furniture. They are best left to beds. These quilts were twenty dollars and they are surprisingly well made and hold up as farmer’s markets table cloths and chair covers.
Even though the twinkly lights don’t look that great during the day time, come dusk they transform our house into an enchanted fairy land. They are our sole light along with kerosene lamps and candles in this space.
The Hoosier was hiding in the kitchen. The Farmhouse sign was hiding in the kitchen as well. They looks so lovely as the first things you see when you walk in our front door.
The Hoosier has been outfitted as a bar. The cupboard holds glasses. The flour case holds bottles. The drawer holds openers and tea candles.
The side table and mirror have been outfitted as a wine stand. The magazine rack holds food magazines.
The black table lends itself to drama and simple items, like birds nests and natural items found outdoors. Such perfect decoration and it can change with the seasons.
I moved a table that was in the living room into the kitchen and put a double rack on top to hold all of my cookbooks. A simple solution to dissuade the puppy from eating my cookbooks and it is beautiful in its highlight of the lamp, books, and coffee grinder.
Growing where planted and gratitude are important and the frugal homesteader can do a lot with paint and a little creativity. There is no place like home! See you tomorrow for part 3!
I had good intentions when I painted it the first time! Instead of a lovely, muted pumpkin orange, the ten dollar table from a yard sale looked more like it was showing its football pride. (I love Broncos as much as the next Coloradan but not in the kitchen!) The orange paint started peeling off right away because yours truly didn’t sand the top.
The lovely young woman staying with me donned an apron and helped me redecorate and restore. She may as well be one of my children. We sanded off the old paint, which didn’t take much, and roughed up the surface.
I wanted a chalkboard top. We looked and looked for chalkboard paint in the aisle and could only find spray paint. Then we saw “chalk style” paint. I thought it was a strange way to say chalkboard paint but we took it home all the same and applied it to the table. It was watery. And then I remembered what chalk paint is! It is like white wash. It adds a vintage look to furniture.
I painted the legs. The table has been transformed from football to farmhouse!
Now, one quart of Country White paint- which is just a touch cream- makes all the difference in the world to cast offs. Take this brown bookshelf. I have never loved the brown. I always meant to paint it.
It is amazing how much different it looks and how comforting and country it now looks.
A brown side table and vintage mirror got the same treatment.
I will show y’all tomorrow how these pieces, along with a little chaos and hard work, transformed my house into a beautiful farmhouse!
Now I said it with my mom voice. You know the mom voice? Even if the kids grow up and move out the voice still finds its way around.
“No shoes in the house!” I says. Best mom voice.
No…(pause)…shoes in the…(pause)…house pleease!
Now I am married to an independent man but one that likes (wisely) to keep mama happy. He comes in from work- tired and hungry- and takes off his shoes first thing. He stashes them below the sofa so the puppy doesn’t play with them. He puts on his bedroom slippers.
And then! Later he walks out the back door in his slippers, through the chicken yard, into the chicken coop, gathers eggs, and comes back in tracking chicken straw, mud, and myriads of stickers, his big, doofy pup following with large paw prints ‘cross the cleanish kitchen floor.
Well, they ain’t shoes, I guess.
Now Folks, the idea of the perfectly clean house is a fallacy designed by gents in suits selling the finest cleaners and somehow it stuck. Only the very bored and those that have lost a hobby or two have a perfectly clean house, in my mind.
There is clutter, and dishes, and overnight guests, and animals galore, and laughter, and spilt wine, and a dog on the sofa. The dust falls like fairy dust and the home is cozy and fine as it should be.
So, y’all, I look at them two traipsing across the kitchen floor that was clean for five minutes. Pa hands over the eggs and the hundred pound puppy drools on the floor, both waiting for mama to smile.
And my heart swells, and I do, because that’s what brooms are for, and puppies, and husbands, and kids, and guests were always more important than footprints ‘cross the floor.
The kitchen is the heart of the home, is it not? Where sustenance and love culminates into family around the table, friends clinking glasses, the quiet of morning coffee, and the gentle stirring of a pot of something delicious. This is the largest kitchen I have ever had and it is just wonderful. Even more wonderful, I didn’t have to do anything to it! I love the color and the punched tin back splash is something I would have chosen myself. The twinkly lights and festive grape vine lights replace the harsh overhead lighting (when I’m not taking pictures). I will never opt for overhead lighting if I can help it! I also removed the curtains.
We scored this sign last week and couldn’t believe our luck.
In these old houses the washer hook up is in the kitchen. That seems quite reasonable to me. Doug will be putting up a clothes line for me today!
My apron collection hangs primly around the pantry. The sign was a gift from a student. It is a lovely reminder that dreams do come true.
The children’s knick knacks that they created during their childhood surround the sink along with Maryjane’s miniature coffee cups for when she sleeps over.
Plenty of counter space, beautiful gifts from friends, and years to come of precious memories and delicious food. Sláinte!
This is the second idea board- Beautiful Farm House. Simple. Comfy. Clever. Painting starts today with the living room.
Now first things first when you are redecorating your space. Paint is simply the biggest alteration you can make. It will speak loud and clear about the space it represents. It is also inexpensive and fairly easy to do. I do love paint with all my Farmgirl heart.
I want to combine my two idea boards into the living space. I want to honor the home’s ninety-two year old history. This is a family home. It should have places to put one’s feet up, places to read and dream while looking out one of the many windows. It should be clean and orderly but not so much that it feels stagnant. A comfortable home where Grammie and Pa can be found. It should represent Doug and I and our loves (lots of plants, books, gifts from friends, and art created from our daughters, granddaughter, or myself.
A nice chocolate color on the trim will help it mimic beams. It will give it a cabin/country feel. For the walls I have chosen a beautiful yellow to illuminate the light from the windows. I took down all the curtains, and well, you’ll just have to check back tomorrow for the before and after! See you then! I have to start painting!
Forget January first as New Year’s! That is only one time of pondering goals for a homesteader. There are several pivotal times in the year that homesteaders like us take stock and decide and dream and implement plans for the year.
Our average spring day starts at dawn with strong cups of coffee. Doug reads the news and I write. We do outdoor farm chores like milking, feeding goats and sheep, letting the chickens and ducks out and making sure they are cared for. We plant as the weather allows, watching the weather and clouds like an addiction. Preparing soil, adding beds, caring for plants.
Doug fixes fences and puts up gates. He repairs things damaged from winter and makes sure we have plenty of firewood curing and in the house for the still chilly nights. We watch our beautiful granddaughter. She wants to be a part of everything, carrying wood, making cheese, doing dishes.
I keep up the farmhouse and put three meals a day on the table. I preserve throughout the year to keep the pantry rotating. Five pints of meat sauce put up the other day, seven quarts of broth last week. Cheese rests in brine on the stove. (I will teach you that next week!)
We watch owls swoop by, worry about family members from a distance, pray for sunny days, and relax in the evenings after milking, reading by oil lamp. We lead a simple, busy, enchanting life. In order to keep this lifestyle we have to find everything possible that we can do ourselves. This allows us to live on very little money and enjoy the profound satisfaction of doing things ourselves. We live softly on the planet and provide healthy food and peaceful living for ourselves and our children that came home.
For the past six years we have added skill by skill and vast achievements but this year I would like to go one step further and do these things more intensely, more prolifically. I have grown all my own green beans, but how about all our corn? I have sewed a skirt, how about sew what I need this year? (I am in dreadful need of new aprons) So, these are my goals for the next two and a half seasons and of course you will be drug along with me through my writings to see just how self-reliant we can be and how satisfying it is to live a life of freedom and work by hand and I hope I can inspire you to step back and live a little more simply and old fashioned too.
Can I: Grow all my own fruits and vegetables?
Make my own wine?
Prepare my own spices?
Make all my own dairy products?
Provide some of my own meat? And source the rest from friends? (Whole Foods is killing me y’all!)
Bake all my own breads, tortillas, rolls, etc.?
Stock, organize, and fill staples so that we can practically eliminate the need to go to the store?
Grow enough variety to satisfy us?
Be creative with recipes?
These are my goals for my farmhouse kitchen. I have a list of what we need to reserve for winter. How to improve my relationships. What to sew. How to rearrange the living room and kitchen. But most of all I need to be present, unfettered, and loving. I need to not get so busy that I forget to hug my husband, sit and watch the rain from the window, read a good book, or play with the baby. Our old lifestyle allowed a two week vacation. This one allows a bit every day. This is truly the best life for us.
This is an excusive look inside a farmhouse whose occupants have been busy with shows promoting their farm, fluffy farm animals, and writing books. I warn you, these written images are not for the meek.
There are cat boogies in my hair
the lamb just peed under the chair
the dining table is filled with business and such
the dishes in the sink are too scary to touch.
I have lost the dog, I must confess
He’s probably under all this mess
Scary spiders have moved into the cobwebs, you see
Something under the couch is lurking at me (oh wait, that’s a kitten)
Spring clean I must!
Scrub, and sweep, and certainly dust.
Been writing books, and my mind’s elsewhere with all this fluff
When we originally walked into this little house, I was trying not to get my hopes up because I knew it was a little further out than we (well, not we, he) wanted. I saw the long pantry and the wood cook stove and squeaked in an attempt to shutter my squeal of joy. The living room was dark. Black curtains were hung or stapled on. Old brown carpet with forty years of pet stains and wood paneled bedrooms finished the gloomy interior. But I could see its potential. Simple changes could make all the difference.
I wanted to give homage to the families that lived here, not let one bad tenant destroy the charm of this place. Grandmothers that looked after the little ones, mothers who nursed their babies by the fire, those who may have peacefully died, those who homesteaded here and started a new life. Such as we are.
There are simple secrets to decorating that I have learned over the years. Showroom front areas are uncomfortable and have no soul. Incorporate your life, your hobbies, your family into each room. Breathe life into rooms with things you have picked up from travels or your grandma’s house. Mix-matched chairs and natural elements take out the sterility of an indoor place. Colors that make your eyes light up when you see them should be used, even in the form of pink couches.
We tore out the carpet first and took down the gawd awful curtains.
Because this place feels like a vacation cabin to me, I wanted to fill it with items that further reminded me of a relaxing retreat. My Aunt Donna’s off grid cabin in the woods and cabins that we have stayed at over the years inspired me. I stacked board games on simple shelving along with books. Outdoor chairs, that are quite comfortable, came inside (this front area was once a porch), and all of my plants that I overwinter in the house add life to this front area. The armoire hides the television. I always decorate with cats!
We did put our gorgeous antique couches out at the curb that our old kitty (rest in peace) destroyed. We went to IKEA and picked up this beauty. It was important to me that if we lived out in the middle of somewhat nowhere that we had places for folks to sleep over. Gone are the days of the pull out couch with the metal bar that pushes into your guest’s back, this couch pulls out from underneath creating a comfy queen sized bed. The chaise opens up to reveal a stash of blankets for chilly evenings.
Cubbies hold spirits while some of my favorite performers look on ready for a party.
This was the original living room if the previous one was the porch but I opted to use it as a dining room. It too had carpet and linoleum pulled up and a fresh coat of paint.
My writing corner is also in this room. The old secretary was at a garage sale near my grandparents’ house for a mere sixty dollars! My favorite painting sets the scene of contemplation and writing. The saints look on. The various ceramics were made by my children throughout their childhood. Sweet mementos. Stationary, cards, envelopes, writings, magazine cutouts, pads of paper, pens, everything one needs to write and create.
I opted to make this room (in truth, it is all one L shape) into an activity area. I did not want to tuck Maryjane’s toys away. When she comes to visit Grammie and Papa, I want to watch her play and have her be near us. The material is a bit of a mess but it is out. Should I hide all the sewing and art stuff in the closet, it will stay there hidden. If it is out I find inspiration and might think of a great use for a piece of material. The table in the center is a great square table that was made by the Amish. It serves as a sewing table, additional dinner party seating, or as a card table. We have friends coming over in a few weeks for an evening of Rummy!
I printed photographs on our printer. They aren’t the best quality but they look nice and I can easily choose other photos to switch them out with.
If it’s out, you’ll use it.
The (very) off white (very dirty) walls and windows in the laundry room just needed a scrubbing, a lively mustard yellow and lace curtains to look like a proper homestead mudroom. The bathroom was given a bright blue paint job and whimsical bird paintings and accessories to rid it of its heebie jeebie factor.
This room was too dark to take a before picture of. The white washed walls became a backdrop for the many things I was going to need to put in here. This room houses our Apothecary…all medicines, bags, jars, boxes, computer and printer, and it is our guest room.
We replaced the broken door with a screen door to let heat into the room and keep cats out. It also adds a bit of old charm to the house.
We are beginning to get settled in our house and starting to feel a regular routine coming back. Every time we walk outside we are in awe. No matter which way we look we have an amazing view. We feel blessed to be the inhabitants of a hundred and nine year old house. To be the next homesteaders here.
I wonder what Laura Ingalls Wilder must have felt like at the end of her life. To have seen the wild west as truly that. To have only used candles, wood stoves, and root cellars. Then to watch as electricity took the nation by storm, coffee makers and dishwashers plugged in, refrigerators and stoves. I am sure it was amazing and something to marvel. A woman’s life made easier. But, I wonder if there was any mourning for the way things were done.
Fast forward and we see that feminism brought with it the ability and expectation to not only work full time but also get to take care of the entire household at the same time! Chemical cleaners, packaged poison food, and quick medicines with side effects, day cares where someone else can raise your child, and all the electronics you can handle are our everyday life now. All to make a woman’s life easier.
Many folks want to go back a little. Get a little land, live a lot simpler. One overwhelming comment that I always here is, “But I want running water and electricity!”
My Aunt Donna has a cabin up in the mountains built circa 1800’s. I used to take my son there when he was small. It sits nestled in a canyon with a sloping, giant of a mountain as the back yard. Tree houses and forts dot the landscape from family members past that played in those woods. A small meadow with a pond and a stream is in front of the house. The sun rises over the meadow and brightens the landscape.
At the time I stayed there, electricity was not present. There was water, gravitationally pulled I imagine, a well I don’t remember, for there was a shower outdoors in the back. Water ran from the sink. The outhouse was a small walk away through the fresh pines and the smell of clean air. Birdsong escorting you there. The peacefulness that the cabin bestowed was something that I wish for in my everyday.
At twenty one or so years old, I never even considered the fact that it had no electricity. Oddly, I took to the woodstove instantly. I started a fire and cooked meals on it without problems. The smell of sweet wood. Fresh fish. I kept the cabin warm in the evening. I also started a small bonfire by the pond and cooked potatoes and corn over the fire. My son and my wolf by my side.
I know that running a full household that way day in and day out may grow old, particularly if one were to have several children. It’s just me and Doug now. The children skip in and out, mostly out. And our house is getting quieter and easier to run. I can cook on a wood cook stove. I can heat the house with wood. It certainly would be less shocking than the electric bill I got in the mail the other day. I could use the water from the sinks to water the garden. I could use a root cellar. I could….
There is a small farmhouse with my name on it out there. And a cook stove waiting to be lit.